Indiana Debriefing: Ohio State Beats Undefeated, Top-Ten Team, Yet Almost Feels Like a Loss

By David Wertheim on November 22, 2020 at 8:25 am
Fields under pressure

This is the best Indiana team in my lifetime. The No. 9 Hoosiers flustered Justin Fields for much of the afternoon, put together several long drives and made some big catches, and rolled with the punches to almost upset Ohio State. 

But they didn't.

Tom Allen's rah-rah and a career day from Michael Penix Jr. were not enough to beat an Ohio State team that frankly looked awful for much of the afternoon. We can take solace in the fact knowing that Ohio State can still win on their worst days. 

Quick Breakdowns


Justin Fields threw the same number of interceptions yesterday (3) that he had thrown in his entire previous Ohio State career. One was a poor throw where he didn't see the safety, and two were terrible, unforced errors where he tried to do too much. Julian Fleming saved a red-zone opportunity for Indiana when he punched a ball out on the interception return a la Maurice Clarett.

There were a few bright spots. Garrett Wilson (despite two ill-timed drops) and Chris Olave both went over 100 yards receiving again as Wilson notched 169 and two scores while Olave picked up some critical third downs and ended with 101.

Master Teague looked good all afternoon and finished his game with 169 yards on 26 carries (6.5 ypc) and two touchdowns. Ohio State needs the running game to be successful, particularly in a game like this where Indiana's pass rush fooled the Buckeyes all afternoon.


I mean. 

Penix Jr. threw for 491 yards and five touchdowns. Ty Fryfogle had 218 yards receiving. Ohio State had two sacks. The only unit that looks serviceable right now are the linebackers. 

It's almost like someone at Eleven Warriors predicted this...

Anyway, Shaun Wade saved an otherwise awful day with a timely pick-six that proved to be the difference in the game. Jonathon Cooper looks like he's doing his part but Zach Harrison has been a ghost so far this season along with virtually every other edge rusher. 

There is a lot of work to do and first-year coordinator Kerry Coombs needs to prove that he is more than just a position coach. I know that there were a few turnovers that should have been called but were not by the referees but that was a brutal, brutal performance. 

Jim Tressel's Least Favorite Moment

All of it.

Fun (and Not-So-Fun) Facts

  • Julian Fleming forced a fumble before he scored a touchdown. He also had more tackles than Zach Harrison.
  • Ohio State had one sack by a defensive lineman, and zero other QB hits.
  • Going back to 1960, the -1 yards rushing by Indiana is the second lowest rushing total for the Hoosiers against the Buckeyes. They had -12 in 2003. (h/t Matt)
  • This is only the 7th time in Ohio State history that the defense has allowed 25+ points in 3 straight games, and the first time Ohio State has won all three of those games.
  • Justin Fields ended with exactly 300 yards passing. 
  • Indiana's football and basketball teams are now a combined 1-8 against Ohio State during my college years.

Underrated Things 

Nicholas Petit-Frere

We haven't heard much of Petit-Frere's name so far this year, and usually that is a good thing for offensive lineman. He, along with left tackle Thayer Munford, have been very solid for Ohio State at a time when the interior of the line has struggled. Petit-Frere's first year as a starter has been exactly what the Buckeyes expected when they signed the five-star offensive lineman.


In 2018, the linebackers were the worst part of an abysmal Ohio State defense. In 2020, they are a good part on an abysmal Ohio State defense. Pete Werner and Tuf Borland have looked extremely good all season and while Baron Browning has had his ups-and-downs, he did lead the team in tackles yesterday.

Blake Haubeil

How much have the Buckeyes missed Haubeil? Jake Seibert missed his first career collegiate field goal attempt and you can bet that not having Haubeil available influenced Ryan Day's decision to go for it on a crucial 4th-and-1 in the red zone when kicking a field goal would have put Ohio State up by two scores. Having Haubeil back for Ohio State sooner rather than later would be optimal. 

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